08 December '10
The New York Times reports that the pressure on Israel to renew its self-imposed moratorium on settlements has been removed:
After three weeks of fruitless haggling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Obama administration has given up its effort to persuade the Israeli government to freeze construction of Jewish settlements for 90 days, a senior administration official said Tuesday.
The decision leaves Middle East peace talks in flux, with the Palestinians refusing to resume direct negotiations absent a moratorium, and the United States struggling to find another formula to bring them back to the table. It is another setback in what has proved to be a star-crossed campaign by President Obama.
The administration decided to pull the plug, officials said, because it concluded that even if Mr. Netanyahu persuaded his cabinet to accept a freeze — which he had not yet been able to do — the 90-day negotiating period would not have produced the progress on core issues that the United States originally had sought.
“We made a strong effort, and everyone tried in good faith to resume direct negotiations in a way that would be meaningful and sustainable,” said a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s internal deliberations, which are continuing. “But the extension wasn’t actually going to do that.”
Of course, that does not mean that other pressures will not be imposed on Israel to make other unilateral concessions--all in the interests of coaxing wallflower Abbas back to the peace waltz.
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